What is it about a waterfall that attracts us? Do we see power in the water as it falls? Could it be the freedom we sense, as each drop breaks away?
If you could plot all the waterfalls within the Daniel Boone National Forest on a map you would notice an interesting pattern. Most of them are located near the mouths of small creeks that flow into larger streams. They form when a large stream cuts through the rock faster than a smaller stream, leaving the smaller stream hanging above it. The result is a waterfall where two streams meet.
There are seasonal waterfalls that can only be observed in the spring, during or after heavy rains. So don’t let the weather dampen your hiking spirit. The next time it rains, grab your raincoat and hit the trail. Waterfalls work their magic even on cloudy days.
Vanhook Falls. You have to walk to see Vanhook Falls, but it’s well worth it when spring rains swell this tiny creek. The falls plummet nearly 40 feet in a thin stream that splashes on boulders at its base. To reach the falls, park at the Sheltowee Trace Trailhead at the junction of KY 192 and KY 1193. Take the Sheltowee Trace north for 2.75 miles. At 2.6 miles the trail crosses a bridge over Cane Creek. The falls are about 0.1 mile north of Cane Creek.
Dog Slaughter Falls. Don’t let the name deceive you. This is one of the most scenic waterfalls in the forest. It’s also one that you can count on being there even during the driest days of summer, when many other waterfalls have disappeared. The falls are nearly 20 feet high and lie at the bottom of a hemlock-sheltered cove. The falls can be reached by Dog Slaughter Trail #414. It is one mile from the lower trailhead off Forest Service Road 195, 2.7 miles south of KY 90.
Bark Camp Cascades. Just before emptying into the Cumberland River, Bark Camp Creek drops over a series of low, wide rock ledges and through massive boulders. The two-mile hike to the cascades passes beneath a wet-weather waterfall along the way. Bark Camp Trail #413 is located off Forest Service Road 193, two miles south of KY 1277.
Princess Falls and Lick Creek Falls. To view these falls take KY 478 west from Whitley City to KY 1651. Turn left (south) and follow 1651 for one mile before reaching Forest Service Road 662 on the right. The trailhead is 100 feet up Road 622 on the left at the gate. Lick Creek Trail #631 follows an old roadbed along a ridge for one mile before changing to a footpath. During the next 0.5 mile, the trail will descend more than 300 feet in elevation. Walk behind rock overhangs and shelters, and cross beneath a wet-season waterfall before reaching the creek at two miles along the trail. At 2.25 miles, Lick Creek Falls Trail #631A takes off to the left, a 0.58-mile trail to the falls. Be sure to watch for the white diamonds that mark the trail.